The headquarters of the World Bank Group is located in Washington, DC, and the telltale sign of spring in this area is the blossoming of cherry trees. The first cherry trees planted in Washington DC were a gift from the City of Tokyo in 1912, and to celebrate the arrival of spring, the World Bank Group Archives is highlighting the 19th Annual Meeting of the Bank Group, which was held from September 7 – 11, 1964 in Tokyo, Japan.
There are many archival materials in the custody of the World Bank Group Archives, which tell the story of the 1964 Annual Meetings in Japan. These records originated from many units across the Bank, and they illuminate the day-to-day work of Bank staff who were preparing for the meeting in 1964. The records show the discussions in the spring of 1963 about the selection of Tokyo, Japan as the host city for the meeting, as well as all the logistical work needed to organize the event. In his address to the Annual Meeting delegates, the President of the World Bank Group, George Woods, expressed his pleasure at the selection of Tokyo as the host city for the meetings:
“…I am particularly pleased that our Annual Meetings are in Tokyo this year, for Japan is a vibrant example of both reconstruction and development. From a state of economic prostration, this nation has risen to take its place among the industrial leaders of the world. The record of economic development in Japan has been magnificent and truly remarkable. Many policies, practices and procedures followed by Japan are worthy of consideration by officials of countries which are traveling the path of development.”
This statement by George Woods is found within the Summary of Proceedings of the 1964 Annual Meetings, which provides information about what occurred during the meetings as they unfolded. But what happened before the meetings? What was happening in the Bank to prepare?
A June 11th, 1964 internal memorandum from the Director of Operations for South Asia and Middle East, Escott Reid, to all of the leaders in his Department, illustrates a typical request for briefing papers. For any one country or region, the briefing papers detailed: the state of relations with the country; the political and economic situation at the time; and topics needing Management attention. The briefing papers were distributed across the Bank, but were primarily authored for the benefit of the President. The briefing papers were an essential tool that helped the President prepare for the Annual Meetings, where the issues of economic development would be discussed. A few months later, in August, the briefing papers from Mr. Reid’s department (as well as those from the other regions) were completed and sent to the Office of the President, and these can now be found within the holdings of the World Bank Group Archives. A description of these archival records from the Office of the President during George Woods' presidency can be found on the Archives’ website here. These and many other stories about the 19th Annual Meeting in Japan can be found in the World Bank Group Archives - find out more about our holdings!